World Health Assembly, days 5–7: International Health Regulations and research and development for health on agenda

WHO/Pierre Albouy

Day 5 of the World Health Assembly

International Health Regulations

The outbreaks of infection with the newly identified influenza A(H7N9) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, MERS-CoV, lent even greater relevance to discussions on the International Health Regulations (IHR). Delegates voiced widespread support for the IHR and acknowledgement of WHO's role in assisting countries.

The Secretariat stressed the need for countries to provide the necessary resources to ensure IHR work can continue, both in countries and at WHO. Delegates noted a report updating progress in taking forward 15 recommendations that seek to further improve the effectiveness of the Regulations. Countries that have not yet met their IHR obligations and are requesting an extension to the deadline beyond 2014 will be required to inform the WHO Director-General and explain why they have not been able to put IHR in place.

Research and development for health

Member States also discussed the follow-up to the findings of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development (CEWG), which focuses on the financing and coordination of research and development (R&D) for health, with a particular emphasis on the needs of developing countries.

The role of the CEWG is to “examine current financing and coordination of research and development, as well as proposals for new and innovative sources of financing to stimulate research and development related to Type II and Type III diseases and the specific research and development needs of developing countries in relation to Type I diseases”.

The World Health Assembly adopted a resolution calling on countries to strengthen capacities and increase investments in R&D for health, promote capacity building, and promote the coordination of health R&D at national, regional and global levels. It also requests WHO to establish a global health R&D observatory to monitor and analyse information relevant to health R&D.

Global Health Innovative Technology Fund

A new public/private partnership, the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund, was presented at a side event on 24 May 2013. The goal of the Fund is to facilitate and fund global research and development partnerships that generate new drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and other tools for fighting diseases in the developing world.

Mental health and disability resolutions

Resolutions on the global mental health action plan and on disability were also adopted.

E-health

During discussions on e-health standardization and interoperability, the delegation of the Russian Federation expressed its support for WHO’s work on internet domain names, including in the Cyrillic alphabet. The delegations of France and Estonia expressed their support for the resolution on this issue, which will be discussed further on Monday 27 May 2013.